Monthly Archives: July 2008

The walking contradiction

Our life experiences play an enormous part in the way we think and behave. We learn from them and prepare ourselves for future experiences that challenge our sense of self, our belief systems, and our wellbeing in its entirety. When we get hurt, we learn to protect ourselves so that nothing and nobody can touch us again. And yet it proves to be both a blessing and a curse.

Yesterday someone said to me, “You’ve changed a lot over the last couple of months… You’ve gone back into your shell and closed yourself off again… You’ve become so serious, like you don’t know how to laugh anymore…You just seem so SAD all the time!” This was coming from someone whom I’ve known for about eight years and only started keeping in touch with again at the beginning of the year, after a five-year hiatus. That there was a five-year hiatus is reason enough to take that claim with pinch of salt. That the claim actually seemed to strike a chord somewhere in my system is reason enough to take it seriously to a certain degree. Fortunately, I was able to justify some of it.

It’s true that I don’t talk much to people these days, except when I’m at work; in fact, it’s probably my overly articulate and exceedingly verbal job that has robbed me of the energy and patience to talk to anyone outside of work (texts and IMs notwithstanding), except the closest people to me, the number of which I can count on one hand. And my inability to laugh when people say the stupidest things may very well be mistaken for seriousness. And it’s true that when something bad happens I shut down and crawl under a rock until I’ve recovered, and shut everyone else out. But I don’t think I’m ‘SAD all the time’; there just isn’t anything to be wildly ecstatic about. And yet this appears to be a complete change of character altogether in others’ eyes.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about things that have been said to me about not being myself in certain circumstances and around certain people. And even though I conceded that they probably had good reason to think so, I thought that at the very core of it all, I couldn’t not have been myself, because I don’t know how to be any other way. But then at one point someone asked, “Is there something you’re running away from?” And then the reality, that had become such a deeply-ingrained part of my life and who I am that I was barely conscious of it, resurfaced: I was running away from the possibility of getting hurt again.

Which makes me a walking contradiction.

We are well aware of the risks we have to take when we want something. We know what we stand to lose, we know we could end up in dark places, but we also know what we stand to gain if we get past all that; the pain is merely a lesson to be learnt along the way, a lesson that we discover was worth learning when the pain is over and we’ve gotten what we want or when we come out of that dark place. So what is the point of running away, if it only takes us farther from what we’re trying to reach? That guard we put up, coupled with our natural instinct to fend for ourselves, goes against everything we’ve been working for and only makes everything worse than it already is.

So why can’t we let our guard down? If in the end we do get yet another (proverbial) slap in the face we know that we got into this completely of our own accord and there’s no one to blame except ourselves, so why are we subconsciously stopping ourselves from trying for what we want and subsequently repelling everyone else? We know that in the end our hearts will win over our heads and we’ll  probably do it anyway, but maybe it’s just the task of patching up that heart all over again, and the pain that comes with it, that keeps pulling us back one every three steps. Maybe it’s the terror of opening up only to have it thrown back in our faces like all the other times we tried.

I know what I want when I want it. I know that in the end I’ll throw everything away just to take that risk all over again. And yet I know that if I lose everything, I will never be able do it anymore.

So I’m a walking contradiction. A stupid, stubborn, walking contradiction. And probably a bit of a hypocrite.

Head vs. Heart

The never-ending battle

We hear the clichés over and over again. “Listen to your heart.” “Follow your instinct.” “Trust your gut.” “Go with your feelings.” The phrases uttered so mindlessly, so mechanically, that we know we’ll never follow them no matter how many times we hear them.

How do we stop the war that rages on in our bodies? When will we know that it’s time to stop fighting? Even when we know it’s time to stop, will we stop at all? Why do we keep fighting? Is it because we’re holding on to that unswerving faith that everything will be all right in the end? Or because we simply refuse to stop fighting because we’re secretly afraid that stopping means a lack of faith and therefore things won’t go our way? And yet, when in the end either the head or the heart wins, we’re so battlesore that when we take a look back at what we’ve fought for, we wonder if it was all worth it to begin with.

How do we know when to listen to our heart and when to listen to our head? The head tells us like it really is, but the heart tells us what we want it to be. And in the end, when the battle dies down and we make as best a decision as we can, we’re never really happy with the outcome, because it was a battle that was won by default, when one side simply chose to give up. We will always end up wondering what it could have been like if the other side had won.

And the war will go on…

Tu le parles?

I don’t do tests. Not academic tests, although if I had it entirely my way I would never have done those either, but the kind that tells you what kind of person it thinks you are, what your underwear says about you, and what kind of language you speak. I don’t do them because I’m somehow afraid the results will tell me I’m a frigid control-freak or that my underwear screams slut. But I was asked to do this yesterday, so, tired of rewriting Dato’ Abdullah’s speech and fending off product owners who were assaulting me with calls for their creative approvals, I consented. I’m not sure whether to be contented or horrified by the results…

The Five Love Languages

My Primary Love Language is Quality Time

My Detailed Results:
Quality Time: 11
Physical Touch: 9
Words of Affirmation: 7
Acts of Service: 2
Receiving Gifts: 1
It kind of makes me out to be a needy, amorous, self-absorbed narcissist, which, if any of it is true, is too mortifying to think about. On the other hand, it kind of says that I just need the good ol’ TLC, which is a much more comforting notion.

It’s true that I don’t need gifts. All the previous men bought me things and they all accounted for nothing in the end, because it appeared that I wasn’t the only one they were buying things for. I’d much rather buy my own things, because as certain gifts have proven, it saves a lot of money, time, and embarrassment of buying a gift that I will never use or look at, on the man’s part. Besides, very few men in their right mind — or the right financial status — would actually fork out the money for a pair of Christian Louboutins or Manolo Blahniks (import tax really does kill you).

The acts of service don’t really matter either, because nobody wants to be put through the misery of being made to do something they don’t want to. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, like fixing my closet door or running out to buy tampons (which will only ever happen if I’m in the shower and I know full well that I was too lazy to get them when I had the chance, and even then I would never put the poor man through that kind of public humiliation) or doing something I can’t bear to do — like stamping the life out of a cockroach because it scares the life out of me — I’m perfectly capable of doing most things on my own or hiring someone to do them for me.

So really, my love languages don’t cost a single penny to learn. In fact, after taking away the neediness and narcissism (because let’s face it, what man doesn’t want l’amour?), they’re really not that difficult to understand. Tell me every now and then that I look as normal without my face on as I do with so there’s no need to put it on before I step out of the house for fear of being shamed, and I’ll tell you that you really don’t need to be built like Ryan Reynolds to rock my world. And I won’t drag you out to watch the Sex & the City: The Movie sequel, so you can’t make me join a gym.

Although to be fair, I really am (occasionally) thinking of joining a gym.

See? Not that difficult.